BAAQMD Adopts Clean Air Plan

As reported on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, the Bay Area Air District‘s Board of Directors adopted an air quality and climate plan, the 2017 Clean Air Plan, entitled Spare the Air – Cool the Climate (links to their YouTube promotional video), which addresses air quality improvement and greenhouse gas reduction for the nine-county Bay Area region. They write on their site:

For decades the Air District has maintained successful monitoring programs for criteria pollutants and toxic compounds. Such programs have been critical in informing Air District actions to improve public health.

In 2015, the Air District launched a Greenhouse Gas, or GHG, measurement program to inform and support its climate protection activities. The overarching goal of the GHG measurement program is to provide the scientific basis that supports rule-making and policy development for reducing GHG emissions in the Bay Area.

In support of this goal, the GHG measurement program has several core objectives:

  • To track trends over time in GHG concentrations for the region;
  • To evaluate and improve the Air District’s regional GHG emissions inventory, especially for methane;
  • To evaluate and improve facility-level GHG emissions estimates and, where possible, evaluate and improve source- and process-level GHG emissions estimates;
  • To educate and inform the public about how the region is contributing to climate change;
  • To educate and inform the public about how the region is contributing to climate change;
  • To provide data and resources to promote climate change research in the region, research that may improve our collective understanding of GHG sources and opportunities for reductions; and
  • To create a successful, comprehensive GHG measurement program to serve as a model for other regions.

GHG Monitoring Network

The Air District has implemented a GHG measurement program to inform its Regional Climate Protection Strategy. The program includes a long-term fixed-site GHG monitoring network to observe ambient concentrations and determine trends of carbon dioxide and methane, as well as carbon monoxide, at four sites. The fixed-site network design is consistent with protocols of international atmospheric monitoring networks and conforms with accuracy and precision standards set by the World Meteorological Organization Global Atmosphere Watch. The four fixed sites are located at:  Bodega Bay, Bethel Island, Livermore and San Martin

The Bodega Bay site (located at UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab) is located north and upwind of the San Francisco Bay Area. This coastal site often receives clean marine inflow from the west-northwest and hence serves as a regional background site.

The other three sites are strategically located at exit points for Bay Area air flow that presumably contain well-mixed emissions from upwind local sources. These stations are at San Martin, which is located south and generally downwind of the San Jose metropolitan area; at Livermore, which is close to the cross section of the eastern edge of the Bay Area with California’s Central Valley; and at Bethel Island at the mouth of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Livermore station was preceded by a trial station at Patterson Pass in spring of 2016 (April-May).

The knowledge and long-term tracking of GHG contributions from local sources to the regional background will support regional and state climate protection programs and help evaluate their effectiveness over time.
Research Van

In order to advance the program’s goal of identifying emission “hot spots” and evaluating and improving the regional emissions inventory, the Air District has developed a dedicated mobile GHG monitoring research van.

The research van is equipped with analyzers that measure methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide at fast sampling rates. The instruments in the research van can measure local winds and chemical compounds, such as isotopes of methane, carbon monoxide, and ethane, that serve as source tracers.

Such measurements will help identify important sources of methane emissions and distinguish between emissions from biological, combustion-based, and fossil-based GHG sources. Emission ratios and data trends observed from source-specific surveys of GHG sources, especially those of methane, will help verify and improve the region’s GHG emissions inventory, thereby supporting ongoing GHG emission-reduction programs.
Greenhouse Gas Data

The Air District has compiled data from the fixed-site Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Network relating to concentrations of major greenhouse gases and prevailing meteorological conditions over time.

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:  The BAAQMD Board of Directors meets on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month at 9:45AM. Meetings are held in the 1st floor Board Room at the Air District’s officeAgendas are posted 72 hours before each meeting in the table below and in the lobby at the District’s office.  You can sign up to receive Board agendas by email and view some Board meetings live via their webcast.

 

Fourth Annual Report on Quarry Reclamation

On June 26, 2012, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved the 2012 Reclamation Plan Amendment (referred to as RPA) for the Quarry. RPA Condition of Approval #8 requires that the County prepare an Annual Report summarizing compliance with the RPA and the associated conditions of approval.
This is the fourth Lehigh Permanente Quarry RPA Annual Report (AR4) and provides public documentation of Quarry compliance for the monitoring period 2015-2016. Section 1 provides an introduction and overview of the content of AR4. A description of current operations at the Quarry is provided in Section 2. Section 3 provides a summary of compliance with the conditions of approval, with additional information regarding compliance (aerials, maps, site inspection information, and technical reports) provided in Appendices A through E. Lehigh is currently in compliance with the 2012 Reclamation Plan Conditions of Approval and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program. Documentation of condition of approval compliance, as well as the previous annual reports, can be found on the County’s website at http://www.sccgov.org.

Mercury News Coverage of the Lehigh Information Session

As reported by the Mercury News in their article entitled Cupertino: Residents get update on Lehigh Cement Plant from Supervisor Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian hosted the second annual community meeting on Nov. 16, 2016 to update area residents about the Lehigh Cement Plant, located close to Cupertino and many surrounding communities. 

In addition to more than a hundred residents attending, the meeting was attended by representatives from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, Santa Clara County Planning and Development Department, Santa Clara Valley Water District, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Santa Clara County Counsel and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In 2014, Simitian first requested an increase in oversight of Lehigh, whose cement quarry and plant are located in the foothills of unincorporated Santa Clara County just outside Cupertino city limits and city jurisdiction.  The meeting was designed to allow all of the agencies to talk with each other and answer residents’ questions and concerns.

As reported by the Mercury, “most questions from residents centered on environmental concerns related to the facility: water pollution, air pollution and particulates in the air.”

Simitian asked Wayne Kino, director of compliance and enforcement with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, if a new stack that was installed at the cement facility is helping with air quality. Lehigh converted its more than 32 stacks into a single stack, Kino told the audience.

“What the stack did for us, and for you, was put all emissions into one location where Lehigh could install monitors to monitor what is coming out of their process,” he said. “In that, it gave us certainty in what is coming out.”

Kino said overall, the emissions situation at Lehigh is better than it was last year. He said the new stack is also higher, which causes more dispersion and waft, meaning fewer emissions reach the ground level.

As far as particulate matter settling on cars in neighborhoods near the facility, Kino said Lehigh developed a dust mitigation plan, and a “fugitive dust rule” is also in the works for the Bay Area at large, which would affect Lehigh. He said much of the dust is probably caused by trucks hauling materials in and out of the facility. He added that particulate matter can be a health risk to susceptible individuals such as children and seniors.

Some residents claimed that noise from Lehigh has increased since the new stack went in, especially between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Michael Balliet, director of the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, said since January, the department has gone to Lehigh 10 times to monitor noise levels in neighborhoods around the plant.

Two of those times, the facility was in violation, and the department issued citations.

So, there is some good progress but a lot more left to accomplish. These agencies only seem to act in response to pressure from the community.

To read the full Mercury article by , click here:Cupertino: Residents get update on Lehigh Cement Plant from Supervisor Simitian.

Hanson Permanente Cement files for bankruptcy!

On September 30, 2016, Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc. and Hanson Permanente Cement, Inc. each filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division.  The cases are pending before the Honorable J. Craig Whitley and are jointly administered under Case No. 16-31602.

News coverage from Global Cement:

http://www.globalcement.com/news/item/5356-hanson-permanente-cement-files-for-bankruptcy

More information on the case can be found here:

https://cases.primeclerk.com/kaisergypsum/Home-Index

Lehigh Public Informational Meeting Video from November 16, 2016